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Accelerated Automation By The COVID-19 Pandemic May Put Workers In Jeopardy: Report

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Accelerated Automation By The COVID-19 Pandemic May Put Workers In Jeopardy: Report

With the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase in automation, both in the service and manufacturing sector, may put workers in jeopardy across the U.S. By allowing automation in facilities, services may improve productivity and cost jobs, the New York Times reports. 

Last year many sectors turned towards technology and upgraded systems for smooth operations amid social distancing requirements and contagion fears.

Even though the situation is limping back this year, it is challenging to hire workers because of the wage disparity between last year and this year. This is leading towards more focus on automation. 

According to some economists, “the latest wave of automation could eliminate jobs and erode bargaining power.”

“Once a job is automated, it’s pretty hard to turn back,” Casey Warman, an economist at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, told the NYT. 

With skilled labor shortage and refusal of workers coming back to work has pushed the demand for automation. 

Rockwell Automation, a provider of industrial automation solutions, said growth is up 6 percent for the fiscal year and saw sharply increased orders in November and December. 

According to the working paper published by the IMF in 2021, pandemic-induced automation would increase inequality in the coming years, not just in the U.S., but worldwide.

Katy George, a senior partner at McKinsey, the consulting firm, told NYT that the automation might harm specific workers. Still, if it makes the economy more productive, that could be good for workers as a whole.

The newspaper reported about the grocery business and says it has long been a source of steady jobs for people even without a college degree. 

But of late, technology and automation have changed this sector: “Self-checkout lanes have reduced the number of cashiers; many stores have simple robots to patrol aisles for spills and check inventory," said the newspaper.

According to the NYT, Daron Acemoglu of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a working paper has said that “a significant portion of the rise in U.S. wage inequality over the last four decades has been driven by automation” — and he said that trend had almost certainly accelerated in the pandemic.

Meltwich, a Canadian restaurant expanding into the U.S., has embraced a range of technologies to cut back on labor costs. 

Many other employers across the U.S. are also deploying automation in place of workers but businesses are keen to rehire workers. 

 

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